Some personal reflections on African travel

Kilimanjaro 2013 Over Fifties Summit Report

September 9, 2013
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Download article as PDF Please check for current information… Kilimanjaro occupies a mythic status among the world’s great mountains. It towers nearly 20,000ft about the surrounding Maasai Steppe, the highest freestanding mountain in the world, and an iconic backdrop to some of the most beautiful and ecologically important wilderness and wildlife areas in the world. It is an International Heritage Site, and in itself an important series of biomes among the half a dozen or so tropical highland regions that punctuate the Great Rift Valley complex. It is also a relatively easy mountain to climb – although I confess I was reminded several times on this trip to be more specific in future about what precisely the word ‘easy’ implies. […]

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G Adventures MS Expedition 2013 West Africa Cruise

May 7, 2013
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Download article as PDF The inaugural G Adventured MS Expedition 2013 West African Cruise kicked off from Cape Town on April 6, 2013. This was a cruise adventure with a difference. An expedition cruise. The good ship MS Expedition is more typically found in the polar regions, in real expedition cruise territory, but this year, while transiting from south to north, G Adventures decided to try applying the vessel on an adventure cruise from Cape Town to Senegal, the bi-polar regions, visiting a diversity of destinations in ten African countries. The MS Expedition West African Cruise offered a very different take on the standard template of African cruises. On board were a hundred and twenty or so passenger, mostly older […]

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Fishing the Headwater Streams of the Western Cape

March 3, 2013
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This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013The Western Cape hinterland of Cape Town enjoys a well fleshed selection of fly fishing opportunities, quite a few of which are along the lines of stocked dams and reservoirs, but there are also a good number of wild stock streams and rivers, all within a few hours drive of the main metropolitan area. The best of these can be found in the Hawequas Mountain Catchment Area in a wide arc between the towns of Ceres in the north and Grabouw in the south, including Wellington, Worcester, Villiersdorp and Somerset West. Fishing these streams was without doubt […]

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Lagoon and Estuary Fishing in the Western Cape

March 3, 2013
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This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013By the time I made my way down towards the East Coast – that is the coast of the southern rump of South Africa – I had begun to run into a time crunch and could not really make the best of the opportunities available. I did, however, pull into the small coastal town of Hermanus, usually famous for its Southern Right Whale breeding runs, but also located at the mouth of the Klein River and one of the recognized coastal fly fishing hotspots along the East Coast. Hermanus itself is a lovely spot. In the African […]

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Highland Lodge, Eastern Cape, Home of The Bloody Big Fish

February 8, 2013
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This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013It was Wolf Avni who urged me to make a point of visiting Highland Lodge just outside Dordrecht in the Eastern Cape, enthusing in his inimitable way about some environmental anomaly that produces outrageously big trout. I had earmarked Thrift Dam as the likely source of the big fish I wanted before the end of the Eastern Cape leg of the trip – this is after all big fish country, but having failed to land that big fish, my hopes shifted to Highland Lodge. I drove up from Queenstown early in the morning, reaching the Stormberg at […]

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Thrift Dam, a South African Fly Fishing Legend Exposed

February 5, 2013
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This entry is part 3 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 3 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013Thrift Dam was suggested to me by author and adventurer Kevin Thomas as being something of an oddity on the South African Fly Fishing circuit – this for reasons of it having been at one time an experimental water administered by the Rhodes University Ichthyology Department in the study of trout in South African waters. According to Kevin, it was reputed to hold some of the largest trout in any South African water. The other point he mentioned was that he had heard that it was now inaccessible without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. I added it to my […]

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Fishing in Rhodes, Eastern Cape, South Africa

February 3, 2013
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This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013(The image on the left is Tony Keitzman in 1992 with a prize winning trout) Leaving KwaZulu/Natal and entering the Free State is also about leaving the brash, California style mindset of that particular part of South Africa and entering an older, more culturally defined region of the same country. South of the Orange River things are very different. The perennial South African color issue is less sharply defined here. There is far less of that clear black/white divide in the south than there is in the north, and more of an historical blending that reveals a […]

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Small Stream Fishing on the the Bushman’s River

January 25, 2013
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This entry is part 5 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion - Fly Fish Africa 2013

Download article as PDF This entry is part 5 of 11 in the series Getting the Reels in Motion – Fly Fish Africa 2013After spending a week or so at the coast to take refuge from a wave of turbulent weather that washed over the sub-continent towards the end of January, and after taking care of a little bit of business, I set off towards the Drakensberg uKhahlamba National Park to test out the fishing in one or two of the many rivers that flush off the flanks of the escarpment, feeding ultimately into the catchments of the two big brothers of KZN rivers, the Thukela and the Umzimkulu. I had already fished the Umzimkulu outside Underberg, unsuccessfully I have […]

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Older Climbers and Mount Kilimanjaro: Five Reasons

October 2, 2012
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Download article as PDF >> Contact us for more information Eco Travel Africa is specializing in Kilimanjaro for older climbers, baby-boomers, over fifty and over sixty, for the simple reason that Kilimanjaro is a practical objective for older climbers. There is nothing easy about climbing a 19300ft mountain like Kilimanjaro, but it does help that the technical aspects of the climb are reasonably friendly to older climbers. For older trekkers Kili is a well established climb destination In General Kilimanjaro does not present a particularly technical challenge. Even during the conventional summit approaches the climb is not steep. That is not to say there are not difficulties, far from it, it is a difficult mountain to climb, but for older […]

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Royal Geographical Society’s Hidden Journeys Cairo to Lagos

August 6, 2012
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Download article as PDF View Northern Africa from the air with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s Hidden Journeys The Hidden Journeys Project aims to enliven the flying experience and transform it into a fascinating exploration of the people, places and environments thousands of metres below by providing inspiring information to air travellers about the parts of the world they fly over (www.hiddenjourneys.co.uk). The flight path between Cairo and Lagos explores the fascinating landscapes of Northern Africa, covering the Kufra oasis, the Tibesti Mountains, Lake Chad and Abuja along the flight path from Cairo to Lagos. This journey crosses some of the driest parts of the planet. Yet these inhospitable places are inhabited by millions of people who rely on […]

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Royal Geographical Society’s Hidden Journeys Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg

August 6, 2012
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Download article as PDF View South-eastern Africa from the air with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s Hidden Journeys  The Hidden Journeys Project aims to enliven the flying experience and transform it into a fascinating exploration of the people, places and environments thousands of metres below by providing inspiring information to air travellers about the parts of the world they fly over (www.hiddenjourneys.co.uk).  The flight path between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg explores the stunning landscapes, wildlife and human history of eastern and southern Africa between two of the continent’s fastest growing cities. In the southeast corner of Africa lie some of the most beautiful natural landscapes and wildlife found anywhere on the continent. From the dazzling cichlid fish in […]

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Royal Geographical Society’s Hidden Journeys London to Dar es Salaam Flight

August 6, 2012
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Download article as PDF Fly the length of Africa with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s Hidden Journeys  The Hidden Journeys Project aims to enliven the flying experience and transform it into a fascinating exploration of the people, places and environments thousands of metres below by providing inspiring information to air travellers about the parts of the world they fly over (www.hiddenjourneys.co.uk).  The flight path from London to Dar es Salaam explores the fascinating cultures, physical landscapes and current political developments beneath this diverse flight path. This journey takes you across the tiny yet beautiful nation of Luxembourg and the striking landscapes of the Ligurian coast, before crossing the Mediterranean and traversing the length of Africa, eventually flying past Kilimanjaro […]

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The Hidden Journeys Project – Travel Africa By Air

August 6, 2012
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Download article as PDF Royal Geographical Society’s Hidden Journeys Project The Royal Geographical Society is a highly august institution founded in 1830 by the learned gentlemen of London as a debating and dining society, but also to promote geographic awareness and to provide some intellectual and financial impetus to the exploration of a world that, although broadly speaking mapped and understood, was nonetheless still largely a mystery to the academic world. The Society began as the Geographical Society, but was awarded a Royal Charter in 1859. An enormous amount of study and exploration took place during this period of history, much of it driven by the British intellectual classes, but also much of it philanthropic, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, which […]

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Kilimanjaro Western Breach Summit: A Viable Option For Older Climbers

April 19, 2012
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Download article as PDF Separating the Fact from the Fiction There has long been an aura of risk about climbing Kilimanjaro via the famed Western Breach. The matter came to a head in early 2005 with the death of three American climbers as a consequence of a rockfall. The route was briefly closed and assessed, perhaps more an act of protocol than safety, and opened again soon afterwards. It must be remembered throughout that these types of endeavors carry with them an inherent risk, and although every effort is made by climbing outfitters to both sanitize the risk and talk up the adventure, accidents happen, and the random nature of a tumbling scree of boulders hitting a tent, or knocking […]

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Champion of The Kilimanjaro Forests: Sebastian Chuwa

March 22, 2012
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Download article as PDF Tanzania is at the vortex of the African tourist industry, positioned equidistant from everywhere, and packed with just about everything that anyone needs to see of Africa in a compact fortnight’s worth of travel. The integrity and standards of preservation of Tanzania’s national parks are almost unique in Africa, and with iconic names like Serengeti and Ngorongoro to pull in the crowds, the crowds come. The petit Kilimanjaro International Airport daily disgorges hundreds of visitors, each processed and divided up among the dozens of tour busses and safari Landcruisers lining up in the parking lot under the spreading red flamboyant trees. It is an industry that handles nearly 400 000 visitors a year, a major contributor […]

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Mount Kilimanjaro Crater Camp Abuse

March 22, 2012
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Download article as PDF The current buzz in Kilimanjaro is the imminent closure of Crater Camp. I discovered this on my most recent trip when a few mates and I summited via the Western Breach and spent a long and ugly night at Crater Camp. Crater Camp is touted as the last word in isolation on the slightly over-trammeled Kilimanjaro circuit. There is no doubt that getting up there, particularly via the famous Western Breach, is a large undertaking, and spending the night at over 5500m is not for lightweights, but isolated Crater Camp is not! We made the trip up from Arrow Glacier Camp in about 7-hours of fairly solid slogging up the middle of the Western Breach. Scrambling […]

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Rourkes Drift and Isandlwana: Key sites of the Anglo Zulu War of 1879

January 1, 2012
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Download article as PDF Deep in the signature countryside of Zululand – undulating grassland punctuated by rubble crowned kopjies and shallow river valleys – lie two key sites in the mythology of the black/white struggle for Southern Africa. The Anglo/Zulu War in many respects was the beginning of the end of black independent monarchy in Southern Africa. It came about as a consequence of a number of factors, some political and some visceral, but all of which were defined by one simple defining principal.: the simple fact that an aggressive and expanding British Empire could not tolerate the existence alongside it of of an independent, militarily vigorous, politically cohesive and culturally intact black mass such as the Zulu. Whatever might […]

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A second look at South Africa Travel: A thinking person’s alternative

December 20, 2011
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This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in Africa

Download article as PDF This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in AfricaAs a travel destination South Africa has a few key advantages and disadvantages The main disadvantage the country suffers is violent crime. This is balanced out, however, by the fact that the South African travel industry is finely tuned, highly efficient and well regulated. The chances are thus very slim that dusk might ever find you stranded on a street corner in Hillbrow with ne’er a taxi in sight. Crime also tends to inhibits a little bit the freedom of a self-drive tour of South Africa, which is a shame because South Africa is the one country in Africa with a […]

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Food & Wine in the Mother City of Cape Town

December 20, 2011
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This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in Africa

Download article as PDF This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in AfricaFine food and wine has been a tradition at the Cape since founding of the first European settlement In fact it was when the first administrator, Jan van Riebeeck, produced the very first recorded Cape wine, noted down as the year 1659. An extremely fertile industry was  founded at that moment that has been built over many generations into the celebrated wine industry and culture that defines the Cape region today. Integral to the recipe are the many cultures and ethnicities that merged at the Cape, some willingly, but many not, but all of which have contributed extraordinary diversity to the […]

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A quick look at South African music

December 20, 2011
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This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in Africa

Download article as PDF This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in AfricaThe taxonomy of the local South African music industry is divided most cleanly along the line of race South Africa’s social mindset is informed by race. While this is in fact true for all the countries of Africa that experienced permanent white settlement, South Africa was settled more comprehensively by Europeans over a very long period of time – several hundred years – which has left a deep imprint, a permanent population and a rich and developing culture. The sophistication of the South African music scene is owed to musicians of each race, and all the sub-divisions within these. The result […]

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The South African Festival and Music Scene

December 20, 2011
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This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in Africa

Download article as PDF This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in AfricaSplashy Fen Legend has it that two friends, Peter Ferraz and Bart Fokkens, were sitting around over a beer one evening in 1990, discussing the decline of the great music festivals of yore. Concluding that the moment had come to reverse this trend the two decided then and there to found a festival in the grand old tradition, and thus the Splashy Fen was born. For those of you not already making plans to drive, hitchhike or walk to Splashy Fen farm in the Drakensberg, then it is probably too late this year to catch the opening acts, but the festival […]

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Experience Africa History Through Travel

December 17, 2011
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This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in Africa

Download article as PDF This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in AfricaThe brave new frontier of venture travel in the rapidly expanding heritage/history market. This is perfectly configured for the Baby Boomer age group who have the money, a wider world view than their parents and a cerebral view of travel. The heritage market has some obvious and evergreen candidates that will always be at the top of the world culture and heritage listings. Europe, with such notable destinations as Italy, France, Spain and Britain, offer a unique view of the Old World that will never diminish in popularity. Other key destinations are India, with a cultural legacy second to none, various […]

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South African Cultural Monuments: The Aparheid Museum and the Voortrekker Memorial

December 15, 2011
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This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in Africa

Download article as PDF This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in AfricaIn South Africa the Politics of Revolution and Cultural Tourism Collide. Every lodge and hotel in Johannesburg or Pretoria offers come variant of the Soweto Tour, and of course it is impossible to complete a visit to the Mother City of Cape Town without a trip across the bay to the penal settlement of Robben Island, where a peep into the prison cell of former president and iconic revolutionary Nelson Mandela is somewhat akin to a visit to Graceland. However, one of the most compelling and popular sites on the urban map of South Africa is the Apartheid Museum of Johannesburg. […]

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Robben Island: A Legacy of the Anti-Apartheid Struggle

December 14, 2011
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This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in Africa

Download article as PDF This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in AfricaPrison Islands occupy a particularly sordid place in the macabre history of crime and punishment. Thanks to the searing autobiography of French detainee Henri Charriere, entited Papillon, or the Butterfly, Devil’s Island has become one of these. The entire Australian continent also lays claim to a penal history. One supposes that the fact of confining dangerous prisoners to an island discourages any form of escape, and no doubt isolates the facility from any kind of investigation, which was certainly the case in the establishment in South Africa of the notorious Robben Island Prison International Heritage Site Robben Island, with its cell […]

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A Brief Look at the History and Culture of Tanzania

December 14, 2011
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This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in Africa

Download article as PDF This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Heritage & Cultural Travel in AfricaAmong African nations Tanzania has an extremely strong history and cultural heritage. It is here that evidence of the earliest human development has been found, where one of the greatest campaigns of World War I was fought, where one of the great oriental dynasties created a sultanate, and where some of the more memorable tussles of the colonial period took place. The opportunities for Cultural and Heritage Travel in Tanzania are enormous. From the slave market in Zanzibar to the battlefield sites of WWI, the possibilities are endless – with, of course, the beauty of Tanzanian wildlife always a backdrop. A […]

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Rwenzori Mountains of Central Africa

September 13, 2011
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Download article as PDF Rwenzori Gallery, my last trip there in 2006 The Mountains of the Moon One of the last secrets of accessible African venture travel is the famed Central African Mountains Of The Moon. The Rwenzori Range, straddling DRC and Uganda, is a rugged range of snowcapped peaks that, although not the highest in Africa, are without doubt the most rugged and beautiful. The range itself is made up of a sprawling conglomeration of peaks comprising six massifs separated from one another by heavily forested gorges and laced together by a number of streams and alpine lakes. The six peaks of Rwenzori are Mount Stanley (5109m), Mount Speke (4890m), Mount Baker (4843m), Mount Emin (4798), Mount Gessi (4715m) […]

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Mountain climbing and hiking for Baby Boomers in Africa

August 18, 2011
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Download article as PDF Climbing and Hiking in Africa is great for boomers There are two words that will put in a nutshell why climbing and hill walking in Africa is so feasible for oldies: climate and porters. Lightweight survival kit is all you will ever need, and there is usually someone close at hand willing and able, and often legally empowered to carry it for you. Then there is all the cerebral interest that is so often absent in northern hemisphere destinations. Floral and bird diversity are just two of these. Estimates vary on precisely what can be seen in different places, but in destinations such as Mulanje in Malawi, Chimanimani in Zimbabwe/Mozambique, the Drakensberg in the South African […]

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The Chimanimani Mountains of Zimbabwe

August 18, 2011
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Download article as PDF Buried somewhere in my memories of childhood is an image of that broken ridge deep in the hazy distance during fire season, as the family drove between Chipinga and Melsetter sometime in the early 1970s. Those were the days before the war, before convoys, landmines, ambushes and all the rest of it; when the Chimanimani National Park became inaccessible, and slumbered under the occasional boot of an army patrol or a wandering band of comrades. Then in the 1980s, after the dust had settled and Zimbabwe was born, the gates of the National Park reopened, and with the ginger fear of left over landmines, civilian visitors began to spread out again, and pick up the threads […]

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Sustainable Travel In Africa and what it really means

August 19, 2010

Download article as PDF Sustainable Travel is more than a simple effort to ensure that activities and facilities are conceived and constructed in a manner that limits environmental impact. Of course this is important, and is a basic prerequisite for acceptable standards of sustainability, but far more important are the conservation  aspects of eco tourism as a travel concept; and how these have evolved in East Africa as the quandary of reconciling human and wildlife interests have increasingly informed the debate. The history of the  Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is an excellent example The Serengeti National Park is not the oldest established national park in Africa, but it is one of the most important, and moreover one of the […]

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A classic journey: Peter MacQueen’s 1909 Summit Attempt Kilimanjaro

July 30, 2010
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Download article as PDF The following is an excerpt from American Hunter, explorer and adventurer Peter MacQueen’s account of his 1909 hunting expedition in East Africa AFTER a delightful week with the Germans and the colonists of Moschi we made ready for an ascent of Kilimanjaro. We consulted with Sultan Sulima, and he procured for us sixteen of his strongest young men to carry our loads up the mountains. The chief guide was the famous Souho, who five months before had guided an expedition led by Dr. Ahlbory. They had reached the edge of the crater of Kibo, but on the way down had lost several of their men by the terrible cold on the bare, storm-swept slopes of the […]

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